Column No. 103 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - April 27, 2006

The Georgite political/propaganda machine is rumbling towards the installation of frank theocratic fascism in the United States (e.g., see “The Rise of Fascism in America,” Gary Alan Scott, CommonDreams.org, 4/12/06).  A controversy rages with increasing intensity: are comparisons claiming that George Bush and Adolf Hitler have much in common valid?  Is it appropriate for the subject even to be considered in polite society?  For example, back in March, a Colorado teacher, Jay Bennish, raised the issue in his classroom.  At the time he did so he also asked students if they thought that other countries had the right to poison US tobacco fields in response to the export of tobacco products by the US, called the US invasion of Iraq illegal, and stated that from the Palestinian point of view, it is the Israelis who are the real terrorists.

Part of his presentation was recorded by the son of an ardent devotee of Right-Wing talk radio.  Dad peddled the tape to a number of such sources and finally got one in Colorado to pick it up.  The controversy eventually made its way onto the O’RHannibaugh Privatized Ministry of Propaganda network with, of course, demands for firing the Mr. Bennish for making such statements, in a classroom no less.  Mr. Bennish was suspended by his school district with pay and an investigation undertaken.  During the investigation, a significant number of his students went to the school Administration to defend him.

In the course of the investigation it came out that the tape-recording student must have run out of tape or something, because there was a second part of Mr. Ennis’s presentation that, for reasons that are unclear, just happened not to be recorded.  And so neither was it distributed on that “fair and balanced” Privatized Ministry of Propaganda network.  In that part the teacher told his students that they had an optional assignment: to write about what he had said, analyzing and if they chose to do so, criticizing his remarks.  Any paper, pro or con, that did a decent job of analysis according to standards previously set forth by Mr. Bennish, regardless of the position taken, would get extra credit for the writer.

Subsequently Mr. Bennish was re-instated with the simple instruction that he needed to be sure to follow the district’s guidelines on the presentation of controversial subjects, with no public indication of whether or not the district had concluded that he had ever violated them.  But the point here is, just by raising the Bush-Hitler comparison issue in an obscure Colorado classroom a national firestorm was raised.  It included raging demands for sacking the teacher for having the temerity to even pose such a question to high school students.

While one could consider the process at great length, focusing in the first instance on just what the Georgites mean by “democracy,” in this space we will visit the substance of the matter further.  As you know, I have previously published several TPJ columns taking the position that the comparisons are valid (e.g., “Fascism and the Georgites,” May 27, 2004; “Comparing Bush and Hitler,” Jan. 27, 2005,” and the recent re-run of my 9/11-Reichstag Fire series).  However, I do have to tell you that most recently I have done a good bit of thinking on the matter and I have now come to the conclusion, which may surprise some of you, that such comparisons are unfair.  Indeed Bush is not Hitler.  In the balance of this column and next week’s as well I will present a series of examples to support my new position.

1. Bush had two Time covers, Hitler only one.

2. Hitler obtained an explicit Constitutional Amendment in the German Reichstag, the Enabling Act, to establish his dictatorial powers.  The language was clear and unequivocal, e.g., Article I said in part: “In addition to the procedure prescribed by the constitution, laws of the Reich may also be enacted by the government [that is the office of the Reichs Chancellor, Hitler] of the Reich; Article II said in part: “Laws enacted by the government of the Reich may deviate from the constitution as long as they do not affect the institutions of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat [a body representing the German regions];” Article III said in part: “Laws enacted by the Reich government shall be issued by the Chancellor and announced in the Reich Law Gazette. They shall take effect on the day following the announcement, unless they prescribe a different date. Articles 68 to 77 of the constitution do not apply to laws enacted by the Reich government. [Articles 68 to 77 stipulated the procedures for enacting legislation in the Reichstag].”

Bush is not developing his dictatorial powers by obtaining a Constitutional Amendment, rather more difficult to secure under the US Constitution than under the Weimar Constitution of Hitler’s time. Rather Bush is using a creative reading of the US Constitution as to what “Commander-in-Chief” means, to start with. Then, he is broadly interpreting a particular (“Use of Force”) resolution of Congress -- one that has no language establishing a dictatorship -- an act of Congress, the USA “Patriot Act” that, itself, violates the Constitution by vitiating the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and is explicitly ignoring the provisions of another act of Congress, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that  among other things requires warrants, secret though they may be, for all searches carried out under its authority.  Bush, unlike Hitler, is not using Constitutional law to establish his dictatorship.  He is just doing it.

3. To obtain the 2/3s majority needed in the Reichstag to obtain passage of the Enabling Act on March 23, 1933, Hitler had his private Army, the Sturmabteiliung (“Storm Division,” S.A.) arrest all the Communist deputies who had not left the country when he became Chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933 and immediately began hunting down the Communist leadership, arrested or forced the emigration of certain Socialist deputies, had all the Nazi Reichstag deputies dress in S.A. uniforms at the time of the vote, and ringed the hall with other S.A. men.

Bush already has a majority of both Houses of Congress (some possibly elected fraudulently, as he was), his majority in the House of Representatives solidified by an un-Constitutional redistricting in Texas. But Bush has a legislative body that combines docility and impotence.  He doesn’t have to terrorize anyone.  Further, with two possible exceptions, no opposition legislators were killed along the road to the establishment of the right-wing domination of Congress, nor were any forced to emigrate.

4. Hitler used the Reichstag Fire (see my columns of Feb. 16 and 22, 2006) to create a “national emergency” enabling him to obtain dictatorial powers from the Reichstag. He produced documents purporting to show that the German Communist Party set the fire. These were later proven to be forgeries. The fire was clearly set by a deranged person acting alone, just as the Berlin police had told Hitler at the time. Hitler simply took advantage of an event he clearly had nothing to do with.

The book is far from closed on Bush and 9/11. Bush may have just used it, but there is suspicion in many quarters that he either knew something was coming and let it happen, or even played an active part in creating the tragedy (e.g., see the International Conference sponsored by www.911truth.org and the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth www.mujca.com, Chicago, Illinois June 2-4, 2006).

5. The primary racial targets of the both Bush and Hitler are of Semitic origin. But there the similarity ends. For Hitler it was the Jews. For Bush the target is being developed, but does include the Arab members of the Muslim religion, the object of burgeoning Islamophobia.  While Arabs are indeed Semites, Bush is obviously painting with a much broader racialist brush than did Hitler.

6. Hitler came to power with a small, under-armed national military, the Reichswehr. It had only 100,000 men and a paucity of aircraft and heavy weapons.  He built it into what became the world’s most powerful military for a time, the Wehrmacht.  Bush started with the world’s most powerful military and is in the process of running it into the ground.

I hope that it is becoming clear that all these claims of unfairness in making Bush-Hitler comparisons are well taken.  There are just too many non-parallels.  We will continue presenting the evidence to support this position next week, in Part II of this series.